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Conquering Your Culture Shock — The Key to Success

Many people have heard of the term culture shock and most expats have probably experienced a certain degree of it themselves. For some, moving to a new country is a scary prospect and can affect both your mental and physical wellbeing. We have some tips on how to make the process a little easier.

Culture shock can vary from person to person, depending on their own experiences and circumstances. It is normal to encounter difficulties along the way but if you find ways to combat these feelings of being out of your depth, you can fully embrace the opportunities that moving to a new country brings. When faced with a situation so far out of your comfort zone that you forget what it’s like to be in it, it can be very tempting to hop right back on the plane home. Hopefully these tips help you realize that there are ways to make the process a lot easier!

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

Finding accommodation, getting the right documents needed, and completing any paperwork before you go can make for a much smoother and less stressful transition to your host country. Learning about the new place you are moving to will also prepare you for any cultural differences and increase your understanding of the area. It may be hard to fit it in before you leave, but in the long run, you will thank yourself!

Moving abroad is an overwhelming process so anything you can do beforehand will really help you. It is also handy to be in the right headspace when you are an expat-to-be. Adventure awaits and it is an exciting time, but this doesn’t mean that it will be easy — try to be optimistic but stay realistic at the same time. Your life abroad will be much easier if you accept that there will be difficult times ahead but that you can get through them. 

Be Proactive

Push yourself to put yourself out there and say yes to things! When you feel overwhelmed in a new place it can be easy to shut yourself off from the rest of the world and stay comfortable in your apartment. Although you should take time for yourself, socializing and meeting other people will help you to feel less alone.

This can seem daunting at first but sharing your experiences with one another makes you realize that you are not alone in this and that other expats are going through the same emotions. Keeping busy also helps to stop any negative thoughts and can take your mind off missing home. It can also be a good time for you to try something new such as a dance class. You’re already out of your comfort zone anyway, so you may as well embrace the change and try new things!

Think Positive, Be Positive

It may seem like a simple idea, and it’s a lot easier said than done, but a positive mindset will completely change your experience when you move abroad. Living in a foreign country is strange at first and being anxious is completely normal. But try not to let this shape your experience of life abroad.

Do anything you can to bring your spirits up! These can be the little things like playing your favorite songs and dancing in your room, going for a long walk, or simply reading a good book in a quiet cafe. Learning to turn your negative thoughts into positive ones will not only help you now, but also help you throughout the rest of your life. It’s not possible to turn feelings and emotions off, but it is possible to affect the way you are dealing with them!

Have Patience

Patience is a life skill that can be very difficult to master. However, if you’re going to take anything from this article, this is perhaps the best piece of advice to take. Finding your feet and establishing yourself in a new place takes time and cannot be rushed. If everything in life was easy, it would not only be boring but it also wouldn’t teach us much. Trust in the process and use a positive mindset to reassure yourself that things will get better.

Living abroad is an amazing opportunity for you to broaden your horizons and discover new places, cultures, and languages — don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back!



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Marisa de Bryner

"Getting insights from fellow expats also living in Gabon has really been of great help to me."

David Thyne

"I'm an NGO worker on my first overseas posting, and InterNations helped me to make some very good business contacts in Libreville."

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